Catholic education commenced in the region in 1889 with the Sisters of St Joseph who provided primary and secondary education in Devonport, Ulverstone and Forth

In 1956 Fr John Griffin was appointed Parish Priest with the specific task of finding and purchasing suitable land on which to establish a Secondary College for boys.  Devonport in the early 1950’s was one of the fastest growing areas in the State.

At this same time, Mr and Mrs Dalton Smith, who owned and operated a market garden were thinking of retiring.  They were staunch supporters of the Parish, and were willing to sell 17 acres and the house for 12,000 pounds (a nominal figure, as the property was one of the most valuable areas of real estate in the town). 

Mr Smith managed the property until the school was built, and with the assistance of working bees, planted many crops that helped establish a ‘School Building Fund’.  Fr Griffin, with the blessing of the Archbishop, approached the Provincial of the Christian Brothers and they accepted the invitation to run and staff the new College on Percy Street.

The Brothers were provided with the house and 12 acres of land, with the balance retained by the Parish for future development. In 1956 Mr Garth Haslock was employed to design the school and a tender of 60,000 pounds was let to Mr Terry Matthews (a local builder) with the St Brendan’s College for boys opening for school on Tuesday 2nd February 1960 (albeit in a partially finished state).  

“The brothers found it a delight to be in new, modern classrooms fitted with every convenience until the disconcerting fact sank home - there were no blackboards - and so they remained for a fortnight.  Many a teacher has conducted a class with blackboard but no rooms; to be given a room but no blackboard was indeed a challenge. So it remained for the first fortnight.” 

“Probably the most enthusiastic welcome given to the Brothers came from the Sisters at Our Lady of Lourdes Convent.  For long years the burden of overly large and mixed classes was heroically borne. Now the Sisters can settle down to the more acceptable task of educating the girls alone. The Brothers hope that healthy cooperation and comradeship will always exist between the two schools.”  (From letters sent to The Standard Newspaper Hobart, 22 February, 1960)

By the mid 1960’s the pressure on the Parish school became so great that Fr Griffin requested permission to use the land retained by the Parish to develop a Regional Secondary College for Girls. Two and one-half acres just to the south of the St Brendan’s Brothers' residence were granted, and plans were drawn up with the expectation that the school would open in 1968. It would have six main classrooms and be staffed by the Sisters of St Joseph.  Sr Francis Mary was appointed to Our Lady of Lourdes School to direct the establishment of the College and to be its first Principal.

On the 12th of April 1969, Shaw College was opened by Mr Fraser, Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science.  After a competition was arranged, the College was named in honour of Fr Shaw, the first Parish Priest of Devonport.  (Entry was 5c, and a $10 prize was awarded to the winner.)

The two Colleges remained independent, although there was a sharing of facilities and some co-instruction in Years 9 and 10. 

In 1972, by agreement of the Archdiocese, the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of St Joseph appointed one Board of Management (Devonport Regional Catholic College Board of Management) and in 1981 Br Reg Long was appointed Principal of the co-educational ‘St Brendan-Shaw College’.

In July 1989, the Archbishop of Hobart, Dr E D'Arcy, granted permission to introduce Years 11 and 12 classes in 1990.

Verse 1. Through the golden years of boyhood we will wend our way,
Guided by our Christian Brothers we will never stray.

Verse 2. Youth will bring both trials and temptations to our side,
We will never falter with St Brendan's as our guide.

Verse 3. Confidently into manhood we will boldly stride, 
Ever conscious of our debt to you our strength and pride.

Verse 4. We'll always remember Till life's grey December, 
Our hearts forever true To our College of fame.

Chorus. St Brendans we hail you,
We never will fail you,
Faithful and ever true,
We will honour your name

St Brendan's College Song, 1966.